Media Law

Subject 730-348 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Three hours of lectures/seminars per week
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours

Legal Method and Reasoning; Principles of Public Law; Obligations or in each case their equivalents.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Miss Fiona Rotstein
Subject Overview:

Media Law critically evaluates key legal areas that affect the content of media publications and broadcasts. It includes a selection of the following topics: free speech; civil defamation; court reporting and contempt of court; offensive publications and classifying publications; contempt of parliament; the Australian Press Council and other self-regulatory measures; and privacy. The subject takes a comparative approach to many topics, in particular defamation law.

Note: The research essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing.

Objectives: When students complete this subject, they should be able to:
- Apply a range of theoretical approaches to free speech and the media.
- Critically compare Australian and English defamation law.
- Apply Australian and English defamation law to hypothetical situations.
- Argue for any appropriate reforms to Australian defamation law by drawing on comparative approaches to law and litigation practice, and evolving media and communications industries.
- Evaluate Australian and comparative approaches to privacy law and the media.
- Analyse debates about privacy law in terms of theoretical approaches to free speech.
- Argue for particular developments in privacy law.
- Demonstrate their knowledge of Australian law about contempt of court, including principles connected with open justice, access to courts and suppression orders, sub judice contempt; scandalising the court, revealing jurors’ deliberations and journalists’ sources.
- Evaluate suggestions for reforming aspects of contempt law.
- Explain the relevance of ideas about free speech to contempt of court.

a final examination of 3 hours (100%)


a research essay of 5000 words (100%)

Prescribed Texts:

Des Butler and Sharon Rodrick, 'Australian Media Law' (Third Edition, Lawbook Co., Sydney, 2007)

Printed materials will be issued by the Faculty of Law.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Critical reading and analysis - reading and analysing cases, statutes and commentary from Australian and comparative jurisdictions and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives; identifying legal judgments' central aspects and reconciling differing legal decisions; and evaluating varied approaches to legal issues.
  • Hypothetical problem solving - including the ability to identify and analyse legal issues that arise in complex fact situations.
  • Communication skills - developed written skills in two areas: extended legal writing in exam or research essay form.

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